Friday, November 27, 2020

New wrinkle lifts Rockets to win over Panthers

Tyler Boone (12) and teammates
celebrate a big second-half play.

MARION, Ky. – In a Year of the COVID Curve Ball, Crittenden County never blinked when things started spinning wildly.

The Rocket football team – like every other one on planet Earth during the pandemic – has become accustomed to adversity. So when two starting linemen were unavailable for Friday’s playoff opener, Crittenden pulled on its Poker mask. 

When the game was tied going into the second quarter or when they had merely a one-touchdown lead in the second half against an opponent they had obliterated just weeks earlier, there was neither fear on their faces, nor concern in their posture.

Yes, in times like these, Crittenden County has come to expect curve balls. And like so many times before, these Rockets kept their eye on the ball and used a new offensive wrinkle to beat Russellville 42-13 at Rocket Stadium, claiming a fourth straight First District Class A championship and earning a berth in next week’s state quarterfinals.

Preston Morgeson caught 3 TD
passes in the first half.

With junior Dylan Yates and senior Noah McGowan shelved because of injury and quarantine, respectively, the Rockets battened down the hatches. They shuffled the deck and stopped Russellville’s running attack despite missing two key components on a defense that’s ranked among the state’s best all season. The Panthers rushed for just 50 yards, but did find some success in the air, keeping the game close for a time. 

Crittenden scored three passing touchdowns in the first half – all on throws to receiver Preston Morgeson. Then he went down, pulled from the lineup due to a nagging shoulder injury. He did not play the second half.

Yet despite mounting burdens, Crittenden County found a way. They turned to a battering ground strategy that featured wildcat formations with carries by senior running backs Braxton Winders and Caden McCalister, and another novelty – a three-back set featuring the aforementioned duo, plus senior Tyler Boone. All three play linebacker on defense, so their toughness naturally bleeds over to the other side of the ball, particularly when they’re all lined up in a full-house backfield. And for the first time this season, Boone has gotten his number called. He carried the ball five times for 90 yards, a new wrinkle that caused quite a stir. 

Senior Ben Dobyns (49) tackles the Panther
quarterback for a loss.

The Panthers had no answer for the running attack as CCHS rushed for 235 yards, gaining 6.4 yards per carry. Boone scored his first two touchdowns of the  season, displaying incredible speed on his first rushing TD, a 54-yarder where he outran the athletic Russellville secondary. 

The resourceful Rocket offense just keeps finding features problematic for the opposition. And they hope those can continue to feed a run toward a state championship. The Rockets are now two wins from playing at Kroger Field and chance to capture the school’s second Class A crown, the first since 1985.

The Rockets will play next week at Kentucky Country Day against the team that stopped CCHS last season in the quarterfinal round. Here is a bracket for the remainder of the Class A Playoffs

Russellville 7 0 6 0
Crittenden 7 14 7 14

C-Preston Morgeson 54 pass from Caden McCalister (Noah Perkins kick) 11:48, 1st
R-Jaquis Todd 62 pass from Lennon Ries (Dustin Brown kick) 10:23, 1st
C-Morgeson 55 pass from Luke Crider (Perkins kick) 8:20, 2nd
C-Morgeson 24 pass from Crider (Perkins kick) 6:24, 2nd
R-Jackson Hampton 23 pass from Ries (kick blocked) 10:20, 3rd
C-Tyler Boone 54  run (Perkins kick) 1:38, 3rd
C-Boone 28 run (Perkins kick) 10:27, 4th
C-McCalister 1 run (Perkins kick) 6:18, 4th

First Downs: CCHS 9, RHS 11
Penalties: CCHS 11-95, RHS 12-95
Rushing: CCHS 37-235, RHS 29-50
Passing: CCHS 7-14-3, 150; RHS 15-38-3, 244
Total Yards: CCHS 385, RHS 294


Crittenden: McCalister 22-111, Boone 5-90, Braxton Winders 7-50, Crider 1-(-7), Keifer Marshall 2-(-9). Russellville: Jovari Gamble 10-46, Ries 14-(-9), Todd 4-8, Chevis Elliot 1-3. 
Crittenden: Crider 6-13-3, 96 yds., McCalister 1-1-0, 54 yds. Russellville: Ries 15-38-3, 244 yds.
Crittenden: Morgeson 4-136, Brysen Baker 1-6, Kaleb Nesbitt 2-8. Russellville: Todd 8-200, Gamble 4-24, Hampton 2-23, Josh Allen 1-(-3).
Noah Perkins 2 solos; Ben Dobyns 2 solos, TFL; Braxton Winders 3 solos, 3 assists, fumble recovery; Tyler Boone 13 solos, 3 assists, 4 TFLs; Caden McCalister 4 solos, assist, caused fumble, interception; Lathen Easley 2 solos, 2 assists; Ian Ellington 2 solos, 6 assists, TFL; Tucker Sharp solo; Luke Mundy solo, assist, interception; Trace Derrington 2 solos, assist, TFL; Logan Bailey 3 solos, 3 assists, TFL, interception; Maddox Carlson solo, assist; Sam Impastato 2 solos, 2 TFLs; Deacon Holliman 2 assists; Rowen Perkins solo; Kaleb Nesbitt solo; Preston Morgeson 3 solos, assist; Seth Guess 2 solos.
Players of the Game: Offense Preston Morgeson and Tyler Boone, Defense Tyler Boone, Lineman Ian Ellington, Special Teams Braxton Winders.
Records: Crittenden 7-2, Russellville 5-4